Day 2 Diary – Revenge of Zero
It’s day 2, or conference day, at GLE3HQ. Ok yeah, I don’t think anyone actually calls it conference day, but that is really what it’s like. Last night we pushed being awake for more than twenty-four hours and met up with Claas from Lace Mamba as he took Mark through some of their latest games – much of it was incredibly impressive. I won’t go into it here as I’m sure Mark will take up this particular area in his diary, but all of us here in LA found ourselves really looking forward to many of the games. After an hour and a bit of outstanding content from Lace Mamba, we headed out to get some food. I don’t know many places in LA, but Santa Monica Pier is one of those spots you should try to visit if you are here, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. down there is amazing.
When you get inside, the place is manic, but at the time most of us were exhausted and starving so we barely even noticed. The food was incredible, the staff were great, and it was a lot of fun hanging out with Claas and the gang, even though, sadly, many of us had been up for over twenty-four hours and could barely string two words together. Best burger I’ve ever had though.
So that was last night; after dinner we got home and I collapsed, only to be woken at 6:30am by Pete’s best impression of a bear sleeping – although, I had been well warned about the snoring so I can’t really complain. Ed and Chris were off to the Microsoft and EA conferences pretty early in the morning (Chris apparently thinks early meant 3am) and all of us were heading to the Sony show later that night, so after a quick run out to the Galen Centre to drop off the guys for the Microsoft show, Mark, Pete and I went back to the expo centre to pick up some passes and generally have a scout about.
Unfortunately I’ve not brought a proper bloody camera, but I’ve managed to get a few snaps with my iPhone. The conference centre itself is huge and I don’t think that ever really comes across in stuff you see online. It’s quite a walk between halls, and I’ve kept a quick mental note of this for the next few days of running around between booths. I also discovered that official E3 merchandise is piss-poor and quite laughable. Following our quick jaunt around the convention centre, we headed off to find a nice McDonalds in LA to settle down in and wait for the conferences to finish; oh and also to actually get some breakfast. Egg McMuffin for more than four quid, rip off merchants.
Following the Microsoft conference, Ed headed off to the EA show and we nipped round to pick up Chris, who was distraught at the fact that he didn’t have any tomato sauce in his bloody Subway roll. We got back to the house just in time to catch the EA conference and followed along for most of it, although it was surprising to see BioWare announce Star Wars: The Old Republic moving to the ‘free to play up to level 15′ business model. To my mind, however, it’s an excellent strategy that will see them bringing in a whole new wave of players. Quite frankly, if the game hasn’t got you hooked by level 15, then you’d probably best switch it off. I’m also looking forward to all of the additional updated content, and it’s encouraging to hear them speak of the huge volume of updates, additional companion characters and worlds in the coming months.
Sadly though, we then got hit with another ridiculous Medal of Honour that looked, unsurprisingly, like the previous game… and the one before that… and all of the other modern shooters of the last five years. I know these games sell big, but they could at least put a little effort in to making them unique, even if it’s just a case of making them slightly different to the previous game in the series. Dust and sepia colour palettes just don’t do it for me anymore. Saying all that though, the little RC gun thing was pretty cool.
The Ubisoft show was pretty interesting, although we only caught a little bit of it. Watch Dogs was an impressive looking title – a cross between Assassins Creed and Syndicate it seems, and not in a bad way. Visually it looked great, even at the early stages, and I just hope that the game has multiple ways of getting to mission objectives and doesn’t just give us a selection of abilities with very specific points to use them. One to watch out for, Watch Dogs… get it?
The Sony conference was a bit of a spectacle. It took place this year, as I think it did last, at the LA Memorial Sports Arena. Unfortunately, we ended up arriving a little late and made a mad dash for the seats before the doors closed. The show itself was pretty impressive, although much of it was lost on me as we sat quite far away and I struggled to see the small screens. Highlights of the show though were things like The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls, two games which looked like they were pushing the boundaries of what games are actually about. Beyond looked like a top notch thriller, but with some hugely impressive action and, surprisingly, they managed to hook Ellen Page to voice the main character, packing all kinds of supernatural powers.
The Assassins Creed 3 ship combat is something I’ve not seen in any other game. I have seen many titles based in a similar time period who have tried to do ship combat (Total War: Empire comes to mind), but AC3 was looking seriously good. Okay, it wasn’t clear from the video how much freedom you will have – the developers did say that the player has full movement control – but it is unclear if you can board every ship. Regardless, it’s bloody impressive and just the thought of the free-running combat on a boarding action is an eye-opener.
Finally, The Last of Us pushed video games into a new era, I think. The demo was brutal, as brutal as the original trailer, and more brutal than anything I’ve seen previously. This is not a little zombie shooter or horror fantasy, this is survival and that is what was apparent from the demo. What really struck me was the detail, the very subtle detail, in the actions as well as the sound from both the main characters and the enemies. I mean, at one point the protagonist grabs an enemy to use as a human shield, and while Joel moves the guy around and tries to take a shot at one of the guy’s friends, the human shield knocks the gun and makes Joel miss. Those kinds of subtle actions are what make this game stand out for me. Then there is Ellie, the young girl Joel has to escort around getting involved in combat to bail you out.
The Sony conference was great, even though the arena was hotter than hell, but I enjoyed the spectacle overall, despite my major dislike of the Playstation 3. It looks like they are really pushing the boundaries of gaming with some of their titles, but sadly lacking with the hardware. Crystal white Vita, what the fuck? Anyway, as we were late to the show we missed the free food beforehand, so had to make a nice dash to the Cheesecake Factory to get some amazing food and a huge slice of cheesecake that is still in the fridge as I type – I’m sure, however, that it will get demolished later tonight. Today is the first day of the proper conference, and I’m really keen to see what THQ, SOE and Activision have to offer.
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